Sutton's hit on Leopold gets Penguins going
Andy Sutton grabbed the Penguins' attention with his knockout hit of defenseman Jordan Leopold, but the NHL is unfazed.
The head shot has been reviewed by the league, and Sutton, who was not penalized on the play, will not be suspended.
Despite launching his elbow into Leopold's head — and the NHL has been making headlines lately because of its desire to crack down on head shots — the league won't be suspending Sutton because he did not extend his elbow in the collision.
Also, it was considered a "north-south" hit, which league general managers did not want included in the new rule.
One of the Penguins' most outspoken players believes Sutton should be suspended.
"Absolutely," Penguins forward Mike Rupp said. "Then there's a lot of talk for nothing over the course of the past couple of months."
The hit occurred with 2:41 remaining in the first period. Leopold was skating with his head down in the neutral zone when Sutton, who is 6-foot-6, left his skates and caught the side of the defenseman's head with his elbow.
Leopold, who was acquired in March in a trade with Florida, appeared to be unconscious before he hit the ice and remained motionless for quite some time. Eventually, Leopold gathered himself to reach his feet before being assisted off the ice.
Sutton's view of the hit differed from that of the Penguins.
"(It was a) hit like any other I've been doing this year," said a tense Sutton, who was suspended two games earlier this year for hitting Pascal Dupuis from behind. "Saw he had his head down. It was a clean hit."
Sutton was dismissive of the reality that his elbow did indeed make contact with Leopold's head. In fact, he berated a reporter who suggested that the hit may have been worthy of a penalty.
"You're telling me I got my elbow up," Sutton said. "You're an expert• You know it was up?"
He continually asked a reporter if he was an "an expert" before an Ottawa media relations member decided the interview session was over.
"I thought it was a good hit," Ottawa coach Cory Clouston said. "The guy had his head down. It wasn't a blindside hit."
Sutton also managed to land a verbal shot at Penguins center Sidney Crosby, who hit Ottawa left wing Jarkko Ruutu from behind on a play that wasn't penalized in the second period.
"I think the hit on Jarkko behind the net was way worse," he said. "I got suspended hitting Pascal Dupuis this year for the same hit."
One of the Penguins actually didn't have a problem with Sutton's hit.
"I didn't think it was a bad hit," Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "You don't want to see anybody get hurt, but that's just him playing hard."
On March 25, the NHL implemented a new rule prohibiting "a lateral, back-pressure or blind-side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted." Under the new rule, the league is empowered to review questionable hits. A player need not be penalized for an in-question hit to receive supplementary discipline.
Senators defenseman Andy Sutton was not penalized after appearing to catch Penguins defenseman Jordan Leopold on the helmet with his right elbow/forearm at 17:19 of the first period Friday night.
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